D&D 5E Mapping Solutions (poll)

How do you share maps with your players

  • Players draw their own maps / Theater of the mind

    Votes: 10 21.3%
  • [in person] abstracted maps

    Votes: 8 17.0%
  • [in person] Dry erase mat or board

    Votes: 26 55.3%
  • [in person] Large printed maps

    Votes: 8 17.0%
  • [in person] Terrain

    Votes: 5 10.6%
  • [in person] TV in table

    Votes: 7 14.9%
  • [remote] Theater of the Mind

    Votes: 7 14.9%
  • [remote] Simple B&W map

    Votes: 6 12.8%
  • [remote] Color map with room features

    Votes: 12 25.5%
  • [remote] VTT with as many bells and whistles as possible (animated maps, sounds, 3d)

    Votes: 7 14.9%
  • other

    Votes: 7 14.9%

the Jester

Other- hand drawn maps. Players must map themselves or purchase maps if they want to have one. We do use a battlemat in person (sometimes), and I sometimes take pics and upload them to discord when we're playing remotely, if needed for clarity.

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Registered Ninja
In person is a mishmash. Sometimes I hand draw maps ahead of time on gridded paper. I have also have some preprinted battle maps that I use. I also have a wet erased mat for unexpected encounter. For low-stakes fights I'll often do theater of the mind.

For VTT I use color maps, either stuff I find on the internet or make with Dungeon Draft.


He / Him
In person I draw a small abstract map when they are exploring a town, terrain, dungeon, etc.

Then when combat begins I transfer over to one-inch grid paper. I like to buy these big poster pads of grid paper, they last forever and aren't as restrictive as an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper.


Playing online, I've really been enjoying using Inkarnate to build big, beautiful maps!


As much as I adore maps, especially adding tactility and verticality to in-person maps, I've noticed that the benefits – the "wow" factor and clarity of positioning – seem to always come at the cost of increased "board game think."

Increasingly, I find the setup time required for full-blown VTTs just isn't worth it – it encourages artificially inflating the length of a scene that might otherwise be over pretty quick, and seems to detract from the roleplaying when the focus is on the map and not the videos of other players' faces.

My current approach has evolved into a medley of hand drawn maps, digital maps, theater of the mind, and Owlbear Rodeo for highly tactical scenes. By trying to pick "the right map for the right job" I try to keep players' minds flexible so that even when they dip into "board game think" it's not quite as deep/entrenched as it might otherwise be. Still very much a work in progress, as like many of us, I had a big learning curve with how to DM online.

I'm thinking about: what is the purpose of the map for dnd gameplay? Should the map, however presented, just be a layout of rooms or most prominent features of an outdoor space, or try to present a scene to the players, with specific objects (tables, bookcases, etc). And in presenting a scene, the players become more immersed in it? For example, I found a video where someone was talking about how in Foundry you can associate sounds like running water with certain parts of the map, and those sounds will automatically play when the tokens are close to it. Is that better than a DM having a note to describe the sound of running water? Would the next step be fully 3d virtual environments?

I think map-as-game aid and map-as-immersion are meaningfully different approaches to the game, even if the latter also accomplishes what the former is trying to do. And probably you need to know what your users want maps for when designing and selling a VTT. I could see WOTC imagining that people want a really immersive experience, but I wonder if that undercuts other aspects of the appeal of the game


I used to be Team Battlemat for the longest time until I got access to a really big touch screen where we play and (a VTT as simple as) Owlbear Rodeo. I really appreciate not having to prep and transport minis and the players like the screen better as they can clearly see what is going on. Having one player go up to the screen and move the figs around while I do other stuff is chef's kiss
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Which entry would you say Dungeon Tiles fall under-- [In person] Large printed map or [In person] Terrain? I chose Terrain since I also use large printed maps too (as well as dry erase)... so I voted for all three of those options.

Which entry would you say Dungeon Tiles fall under-- [In person] Large printed map or [In person] Terrain? I chose Terrain since I also use large printed maps too (as well as dry erase)... so I voted for all three of those options.
That's a good point I forgot about dungeon tiles. They are 2d, so maybe similar to a large printed map?

I'm curious about why you choose to have "theater of the mind" as a standalone option only for remote. Why do players have to draw their own map if we are playing Theater of the mind in person ?

I was thinking of having a mapper, like in basic dnd.
One player should create a map of the areas being explored, based on the referee’s descriptions. Details such as monsters or traps encountered, clues to puzzles, or possibly interesting unexplored areas may be noted on the map as it is drawn.

In person, the mapper can show their map to the other players easily. Remote, you may as well just use a VTT with a map, though I guess you could just have a blank digital whiteboard and have players draw

Voidrunner's Codex

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